The Pinecrest boys basketball team has mostly seen success under first-year head coach John Bauersfeld.
The Paladins had only lost twice heading into their matchup with Walker on Friday night, with one of those losses being an overtime thriller against Class 4A Marist back in November.
Friday night’s contest against the Wolverines was another chance for 11-win Pinecrest to get even more of a leg up in their region, but instead of the results that had almost become routine to them, the visiting Wolverines wore the Paladins down, jumping out to large lead late and handing them a decisive 62-30 defeat.
“I think they came out and defended really well and were really physical,” Bauersfeld said. “We didn’t meet the physicality of how they were guarding us. We settled for too many jump shots. When you do that against good teams that box out, rebound and limit you to one shot, you’ve got to make jump shots to stay in the game, and we didn’t do that.”
Despite plenty of open looks, neither team could get their shots to fall early in the game. Behind a three from Oscar Lynch and a layup from Caleb Bohn, the Paladins eventually built a slight lead at 7-2 with 2:54 left in the first quarter. Hank Lynch added a three of his own with 1:25 left on the clock to extend the advantage to 11-4, but Walker connected on some last-minute shots to make it 13-9 heading into the second.
It was then that the Wolverines began to take advantage of their shot opportunities. Walker tied the game at 18-18 with five minutes left in the first half, finding much more success from behind the arc from that point. Walker shot 10 threes for the game, with five in each half.
“They shot the ball well, but a lot of times, that’s because we weren’t guarding them the way we should be guarding them,” Bauersfeld said. “They (were) obviously able to get open looks.”
Walker took its first lead with 4:27 left until the break. With three long shots in the second to go with a dunk off a Pinecrest turnover, the Wolverines had put together a 14-0 run and led 27-18. Bohn finally broke the scoring drought with under a minute left in the second, hitting a three to narrow the Paladins’ deficit to eight.
In the third, Walker kept their effective shooting going and began to dominate Pinecrest in the paint defensively. Midway through the quarter, the Wolverines had build a comfortable 42-23 lead after a 13-0 run. From that point, the game’s result was essentially decided.
“We’re a good team, but we’re not at that next level yet,” Bohn said. “When we get to these guys who are physical, we’re not meeting that. Everyone was getting pushed around. That’s what happens when your confidence goes down.”
The lopsided loss certainly stung, but the Paladins have one more matchup with Walker on the horizon, on Jan. 25.
“We’ll beat them next time,” Bohn said.
Walker 43, Pinecrest girls 25
The Paladins briefly held close with the Wolverines in a very low-scoring first quarter with buckets from Nika Brown and Ella Binkley, but Walker put together a 7-0 run to take an 11-4 lead a few minutes into the second.
Pinecrest only played from behind from there, with the Wolverines putting together a 10-0 run starting at the end of the second. The loss drops Pinecrest to 2-12 overall and 1-4 in the region.